Monthly Archives: July 2015

Constructive Dismissal Costs an Employer Over $200,000

I quit

The Story
An employee informed her employer that she was pregnant. The owners of the business responded the court heard in the following manner.

  1. What about me? I was going to retire at the end of the year”
  2. Employer demanded the employee to sign a “variation” to her contract, making her remuneration and ongoing employment contingent on the meeting of unattainable sales targets. She initially signed it and then requested to take the copy and read it over at home with her husband.
  3. Part of the variation was  to work additional hours and new sales targets.
  4. The owners then suggested that a return to part-time work after the conclusion of her maternity leave would not be “workable”
  5. The employee was told that she would not be able to run photoshoots later in her pregnancy, as this was not safe and “not a good look” for the business.
  6. The employer insinuated that her wages would need to be cut because she would not able able to generate income and
  7. She could endanger herself and others because of her pregnancy.

The employee eventually resigned which the court viewed as constructive dismissal.(the changing of an employee’s job or working conditions with the aim of forcing their resignation)

The court set to make an example of this type of behaviour by imposing hefty penalties.

The damages awarded were as follows;

a. Economic loss $164,079

b. Penalty for distress $10,000

c. Penalty to the business of $45,000

d. Penalty to both the owners of $16,000 divided equally


The Lesson

Human resource policies around managing pregnancy. Understanding the legal obligation you have under the Act. Consult the employee and if and when necessary medical advice will be required depending on the type of work.

Sagona v R & C Piccoli Investments Pty Ltd & Ors [2014] FCCA 875 (30 April 2014)

Agriculture fatality and injury data

safe work australia gary tremolada trainer

Data from the infograph

43 workers killed each year in the agriculture industry

Incident Percentage
Worker deaths involved a vehicle 74%
Workers killed in a single vehicle incident 65%
Workers killed while mustering 7%
Fatalities occurred on a farm 85%

3400 workers injured in the agriculture industry

Incident Percentage
Injuries occurred while driving a vehicle 7%
Injuries occurred as a result of a fall from height 11%
Injuries occurred  as a result of muscular stress while handling objects 12%
Injuries occurred  due to being hit by an animal 9%



5 Steps to Providing Constructive Feedback

feedback expert leadership management gary tremolada trainer assessor

Remember, feedback needs to be authentic, useful, practical and setup to win not to catch out. Your job as a leader is to ensure ownership and empowerment and ultimately getting to the next step.

1. Know the gap. Identify where the team member needed to be as compare to where they ended up. What you’re looking for is recognition that there is a difference between what happened and where they need to be. Identifiable and measurable.

2. Its about behaviours not personality.  What are the specific behaviours and values that you want to see. eg planning, organising, tone of voice, following process etc You must provide the reasons “why” the organisation does what it and why it wants it they way(vision and mission). This gives purpose and reason.

3. Gain their feedback. For example, What do they think needed to happen?, where do they think they went right and wrong? Look for the gaps in skill and behaviours. Involve and engage. You may find a coaching, training, or deployment issue.

4. Contingencies, what are the things to look out for?, what result tells you you’re getting it right? What results look like when you getting it wrong. what options do I have when I get it wrong? What do I need to do, who do I need to speak to?

5. Summarise it. Put the feedback into written steps or a flow chart that is easy to understand and that has measurable outcomes. Set a review time line and what will happen moving forward. Keep people informed and engaged.

Remember, there are typically 2 types of people, “growth” mindset  and “fix” mindset people. When you’re dealing with growth mindset, engage them. They want to understand and be part of the change. The fix mindset is task orientated, just focus on moving forward, they’re interested only in moving forward with the answer. The past is the past.

Other feedback models, AID, Sandwich, 4 Stage model

Picture: boxwire